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Friday, May 10, 2013

Middlebury College & the Founders Canes, a Graduation Tradition

If you have ever attend a Middlebury College graduation ceremony, you will have noticed, not just the usual, jubilant, throwing up of the caps upon completion, but an enthusiastic waving of a "Gamaliel Painter" walking cane. These canes are modeled on an original, belonging to Gamaliel Painter himself, the founder of the college.

I have had the honor of making these canes for the last 16 years. In the early days, the college wanted every living alumni to be presented with a Gamaliel Painter cane, so orders were sometimes as many as 5,000! It was quite a task and my craftsmen would move into a Zen state, while repetitively completing one cane to the next. A hush would come over the usually bustling and noisy workshop, and instead it felt like a hive of bees, gently humming as one!

I am proud to say that every component of these walking canes are Vermont made; from the locally grown, turned ash shaft, the brass foot and ring, as well as the commemorative plaque. It is a true joy for me to make the Gamaliel Painter canes and to be associated with such a great institution as Middlebury College.